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SsangYong launches contract hire operation

SsangYong has launched a contract hire operation just weeks after introducing an approved used car programme.

The two moves are designed to give franchised dealers more tools to increase business and come as SsangYong ramps up efforts to expand its network. It is looking to add 40 dealers this year to take its network to 60.

Paul Williams, managing director of Koelliker UK, SsangYong’s importer and distributor, said: “Contract hire is a huge chunk of the market.

"If you want to compete in the UK, you have to have an offer.”

Siemens Motor Contracts, the contract hire division of Siemens Financial Services, will provide the finance support enabling dealers to target business users, from sole traders to large fleets.

For Siemens, the contract is its second in the automotive market, having already been signed up by Kia.

“We are attacking the market in a joined up and professional manner. We are set up for a sustainable long-term business,” Williams said.

Since his appointment in January, Williams has adjusted model prices, bringing them in line with market expectations.

He has also revised specification levels, repositioned models, negotiated new commercial terms, launched a new website for the manufacturer and its dealers, and reduced parts prices by 40% to help cut the cost of ownership.

“If you look at what we are doing, it’s in a scale and manner that is far ahead of our current sales levels. We now have the right ingredients,” he said.

SsangYong sales fell last year to 1,300 from just over 2,000 in 2006 but Williams is confident of returning to 2,000 this year, despite having a smaller retail network.

He added: “The quality of business we are doing now is giving good margins for dealers; we just don’t have high enough volumes.”

With SsangYong announcing 20 new models by 2014, and the UK likely to take “at least half” of them, dealers will have plenty of opportunity to grow their sales beyond their core SUV and MPV business.

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